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Durgesh Nandini

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Stories from Bangladesh and India

Compiled and translated by
Radha Chakravarty




A Reader at the Department of English, Gargi College, University of Delhi, Radha Chakravarty is currently working on English translations of major Bengali writers such as RabindranathTagore, Mahasweta Devi, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Syed Shamsul Haq and Selina Hossain. Her doctoral dissertation is a cross-cultural study of contemporary women novelists including Doris Lessing, Anita Desai, Mahasweta Devi, Toni Morrison, Buchi Emecheta and Margaret Atwood. She has contributed essays and review articles to various journals and critical anthologies. Her other interests include travel and freelance writing.


Twenty powerful stories by writers from Bangladesh and India, translated from Bangla by Radha Chakravarty.

Radha Chakravarty retains the musical language and distinctive cultural features of the people and places depicted in these narratives.

"A Dream Day" by Sunil Gangopadhyay presents a romantic interlude that remains a cherished memory amidst the humdrum routine of everyday life.

In Debes Ray's "Ranju's Blood," the antics of a precocious child end in pain and devastation, a tale of innocence and violence figuring the situation of the nation-state.

"Raft" by Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay uses futuristic science fiction to comment on changing social mores and the dehumanizing effects of so-called 'progress.'

What is the secret of the mysterious lighter that has the power to transform Debnath from simple seafarer to covetous collector of luxury items? Atin Bandyopadhayay's "Amazing Light" combines the voyage genre with adventure fiction to demonstrate changing class-consciousness in today's consumer society.

Through the musings of a woman who relives the pain of her broken first marriage while recognizing the new-found confidence that she has subsequently acquired, "Proprietor" by Nabaneeta Dev Sen explores the impact of divorce on the relationship between mother and child.

Loss of innocence is the central motif of the story by Sadhan Chattopadhyay, in which sixteen year old Aditi romanticizes her encounter with the local MLA, imagining that the new bus link to the city is really the politician's personal gift of "Six Midibuses for Aditi"' The story compares the growing pains of the young girl with the dream of modernization that affects her entire village.

Women today may have an altered self-image and enhanced expectations of life; but have our social practices and attitudes kept pace with these changes in the female psyche? Dibyendu Palit in "Wonderstory" explores the implications of an arranged marriage in today's changed social scenario, through the narrative of Shohini, a modern working girl in search of happiness.

Set in the hills of Tripura, "Gangacharan's Champreng" by Debabrata Deb is about one man's yearning for beauty and tradition in the face of violent social change. Rabichandra remembers his father, Gangacharan Debbarma, playing the champreng on a moonlit night. He, too, longs to play such beautiful music. But life catches up with him …

Seeking admission to a school can be a harrowing experience for children, and also for most parents. "Rainbow Colors" by Suchitra Bhattacharya reminds us that despite the onslaught of textbook knowledge and the pressures of the rat-race, it is the simple things in life that remain important.

In Mahasweta Devi's "Jamunaboti's Mother," as the child Jamunaboti wastes away due to hunger and malnutrition, her impoverished mother saves coins in an earthen jar to buy her daughter a beautiful golden-haired doll displayed in a shop window. The story is a powerful indictment of a city that prides itself on its progress towards modernization, ignoring the plight of its poverty-stricken inhabitants.

"Incognita" by Rashid Haider is a Liberation War story with a difference. The narrator's casual telephone flirtation with an unknown woman develops in mysterious and unexpected directions, leading to a startling denouement.

In Secret Life, Public Death" Shamsul Haq explores the forbidden desires that lurk behind the morally upright façade of an eminent member of a village community. The tide of rumor swells to engulf the entire village in shame, making a public spectacle of Shukur Mohammad's alleged attraction for Mariam Bibi, his beautiful daughter-in-law.

Gopal in Selina Hossain's "Spent" is exposed to domestic violence at a very early age. He takes to crime, his aggression and rage misused by politicians to suit their devious plans. But concealed inside the hard outer shell is a tender hearted boy who still loves his mother and dreams of beautiful private landscapes.

In a "Mother-Daughter World," Hasan Azizul Huq's apocalyptic story about the rape of a mother and daughter by members of a village community, nature metes out a violent poetic justice.

"Alone, Together" by Manju Sarkar charts the social and familial pressures that force an estranged couple to remain trapped in a loveless marriage.

"Return, in the Moonlight" by Jyotiprakash Dutta evokes a ghostly presence that spreads terror and fear of discovery. The lonely moonlit landscape gradually turns into a mindscape, as characters peer into the abyss of their own repressed guilt.

In Rahat Khan's story, "The Shape of Things," depicts the decadence of the urban upper middle-class in their pursuit of material pleasures. Three couples on their way to a picnic indulge in forbidden fantasies, oblivious of the procession of angry workers marching towards them . . .

Rizia Rahman's "Irina's Picture" links the public theme of war and peace to the breakup of private relationships within the family. Branded a lunatic, the protagonist watches family dynamics in helpless rage, clinging to the image of an orphaned girl's attempt to stem the tide of violence.

Victim turns predator in "A View of Famine" by Showkat Ali, as Abid and Akkas Ali go on a nightmare journey through the forests of a famine-stricken area.

In Hasnat Abdul Hye's "Still Life," a portrait of heartbreak unfolds, revealed in the scraps of torn paper tossing and turning in the gusts of wind blowing through the emptiness of a broken home, where a pair of sparrows painstakingly build a nest to begin anew…

Love and desire, laughter and tears, jealousy, greed, power, violence - these stories reverberate with myriad shades of emotion, exploring the depths of the human psyche. Tracing the lives of ordinary individuals as they grapple with forces larger than themselves, these narratives will leave an indelible impression


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